WHO estimates that more than 200
million girls and women alive today have undergone #FGM and continue to live
with the negative consequences of this violating procedure. Further estimates
by UNICEF (2016) show that 3 million girls around the world are at the risk of
undergoing female genital mutilation every year.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external
genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical
FGM is a form of violence against
women and children is frequently practiced as traditional rites across many
different cultures. Often as a part of traditional beliefs, FGM is wrongly
practiced as a means to beautify women sexually and equally wrongly assumed to preserve
Many different forms of Female Genital
Mutilation are practiced across cultures. FGM typically includes all procedures
that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury
to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The World Health
Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, all of which are
practiced in Nigeria. They include:
FGM Type 1 is defined
as the partial
or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The
subgroups of Type 1 FGM are: type 1a, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce
only; type 1b, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.
FGM Type 2 entails
or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision
of the labia majora (excision). Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type 2a, removal
of the labia minora only; type 2b, partial or total removal of the clitoris and
labia minora; type 2c, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora
and labia majora.
FGM Type 3 involves
of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning
the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the
clitoris (infibulation). Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and
apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia
FGM Type 4 is also known as unclassified and involves all other
harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for
example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. The FGM Type
4 also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal
concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back
into the body, which is common in many parts of Africa including Nigeria.
FGM is mostly carried
out by traditional circumcisers, who may have other roles in the community,
such as Traditional Birth Attendants. In other instances, willing medical
professionals are be sought out by parents to have the procedure carried out on
FGM has no known
health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing
and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue. The practice of FGM
continue to prevail for reasons including; Respect for Tradition, Rite of
Passage, Social Convention, Marriageability, Virginity, Fertility, Chastity and
Faithfulness, Cleanliness, Femininity, and Religion.
Mutilation (FGM) is a growing concern in the world, and is classified as a
violent act against the girl child, violating the human rights of individuals.
As a component of SDGs
3 (Good health and well-being), FGM can best be attained alongside Gender
Equality (SDG 5) given the social-cultural factors that determine outcomes in
The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint
Programme on Elimination of FGM in Nigeria promotes transformation of gender
and social norms, as a means to achieve social and behavioural change with
regard to female reproductive health and child protection.
practices always have a negative health impact on a given population, and is
often addressed with provision of improved medical services. However,
prevention must a key area of implementation and can often be achieved by
promoting positive social and behavioural changes in a population.
Gender Equality refers
to a state in which gender has no bearing on one’s rights or access to
The United Nations
describes Gender Equality as “a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous
and sustainable world” and addresses FGM in Goal 5 Target 3, “Eliminate all
harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital
In the context of
eliminating FGM, we know the important roles of community gatekeepers; key
influencers, religious leaders, traditional rulers, local chieftains, as well
as roles of community members; parents, children, youths, in ending FGM. We must acknowledge that men often are the ones placed in these roles as
designated by the community holding significant power and influence in the
policies governing that community. It is therefore important to consider the roles
and responsibilities of men in ending FGM as the “other half” of Gender
There is a constant
need for relevant services and resources to ensure young girls and women are
protected from the practice of FGM. Resources such as health services,
counselling, reporting mechanisms, information, and security.
In positions of power, we observe that the
male majority often control the tools required to implement justice or
protection policies that may or may not be in place; cultural and political
authority, law enforcement, finances, etc. With such tools at their disposal,
having more men buying into the need for Gender Equality offers a more
sustainable approach in the campaign to end FGM.
addressed the effects of gender inequalities across relationships of mixed genders,
which exist in every aspect of our daily lives; in emotions, communication and
understanding, and economic arrangements. These all contribute to how a person
interacts in their daily life. The way a person feels, understands and
communicates will have an effect on their interactions with others irrespective
of gender. Gender Equality is everyone’s business.
In the campaign to #endcuttinggirls, it is important to
recognize the emotions of those involved in this violent practice. Survivors,
guardians, spouses, and even the cutters themselves all have different emotions
and motivations where this practice is concerned.
It is therefore
important to maintain open communication lines across these groups of people.
While FGM may be carried out with a good intention from family/kin, it is
without doubt that the consequences bring only pain and hurt with no benefits.
Research continues to
show that gender inequalities are often as a result of social constructs of
manhood/masculinity, which may vary across cultures and are usually revered by
both men and women. Traditional depictions of masculinity must be reshaped to
achieve gender equality, and it is an ethical responsibility of men to
participate in these reformation efforts.
Chowdhury and Patnaik
(2010) stated the impossibility of promoting gender equality in a patriarchal
society without the involvement of men, highlighting the need for participation
by “partners” of women to improve the lives of women.
Power dynamics that
exist in most Nigerian cultures often have men as the breadwinners and final
decision makers in family settings, which puts them in a position for direct
protection of the girl child.
A father must protect his daughters to ensure they are not mutilated
It is therefore pertinent to , that men and boys are empowered with information regarding equal rights for women, especially as regards their health and well-being.The YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg/videos shares a collection of clips from intervention efforts at community levels, many showing men in their various roles in the communities joining the campaign to End FGM in Nigeria.
Here, the Ooni of Ife denounces FGM in a public declaration
perpetrators, the target audience for primary prevention, holders of the social
norms and influencers on other men, men need to be engaged to reduce and
prevent gender-based violence in their communities’’-Mr. Koshuma Mtengeti, Children’s
Dignity Forum (CDF) Executive Director.
there is need to train men and boys on positive and caring fatherhood which
aims at building capacity in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude on the
role of men as caring partners in promoting gender equality and positive behaviour.
In other to
achieve this, men and boys are mobilized to form fathers’ groups and are
trained on positive parenting models, protection of women and girls from
violence, child marriage, teen pregnancy and Female Genital Mutilation (Sonke
This is on
the premise that when Men and boys are educated, become partners in the
campaign against gender violence they tend to know their roles in protecting
the girl child.
@UnicefNigeria who have started engaging men and boys in the campaign to #EndFGM
in Nigeria as one of the strategies under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on
the elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change.
engage to End FGM Alliance are being mobilized and formed across the five UNJP focus
states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) in Nigeria to advocate for the
elimination of all forms of harmful traditional practices such as FGM.
partners train members of Male Engage to End FGM Alliance
on how to FGM affects women’s health and rights. They also learn about women’s
sexual and reproductive rights and how understanding these rights will enable
women to make informed decisions about their well-being.
objective of the Male Engage to End FGM Alliance is to promote the well-being
of girls and women in their communities. Besides their advocacy to community
gatekeepers, the Alliance members also discuss FGM and other issues affecting
their Girls and Women’s lives during their regular meetings in their community.
As we celebrate the 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD),
held on 8th March, with the campaign theme #EachforEqual”, let us
remember that “Men have a role to play inEnding FGM through a
gender equal world”. Let’s be #EachforEqual.
At this point, I will
stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I
entertain any questions.
Thanks for being part
of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our www.endcuttinggirls.org
for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls
Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms. @Endcuttinggirls
Together, we will end
FGM in this generation. Once again, I am @_chzy (Lauryn Dunkwu), your Anchor for Todays Tweet Conference.